January 8, 2003 11:20 AM PST

Schools profit from privacy settlement

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Amazon unit settles privacy lawsuit

April 27, 2001
Several law schools and privacy rights groups will benefit from a settlement that Amazon.com subsidiary Alexa Internet reached in 2001.

Alexa Internet settled several class-action lawsuits in April 2001, which alleged that it misused consumers' personal information without their consent.

Under the terms of the settlement, Alexa said it would destroy some of the personally identifiable records in its database and pay up to $40 per person to customers whose records were found in the database.

According to a court order issued last month, at least one individual applied for the $40 disbursement. Alexa did not release any further information on how many individuals had been awarded money.

The rest of the money was spread among 17 schools and organizations, including the Internet Education Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the University of San Francisco, the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon University. Grants ranged from $50,000 to $250,000.

Canada's University of Ottawa said it will use its $150,000 grant to establish a center to study technology law. The center, set to open in the spring, will offer students at the university the opportunity to do litigation and public policy research, a university representative said.

"While the U.S. has several such (centers), a similar undertaking has been notably missing in Canada," Michael Geist, a professor of law at the university, said in a statement. "This initiative will fill that void by taking on cases that might not otherwise make their way into the Canadian court system. As the federal and provincial governments contemplate new Internet regulation, representation of the public interest is crucial to the creation of a well-balanced policy and regulatory framework related to Internet issues."


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